Story 12

The first warden

I must tell you how it came about.

Frances Jeram with other staff and residents outside Le Court

Leonard asked me to go full time. Give up my job and go full time at Le Court. And I did, without an awful lot of time to think it over. What had really won me over was that, a few nights before, sitting in the kitchen with a light of a candle, having cocoa with him before I went home, he began to talk about another home that had been offered to him. Which rather horrified me at first as Le Court wasn’t really going properly!

Then he began to talk about his vision for the future. And as he did this in this dark kitchen, I could see him — I promise you I could see, these little eyes, coming on, on and on and on in the dark almost into infinity. You might think of them as an extension of the candle, with the flames coming on, or stars, or what I don’t know, but they were little lights. And I saw that, and it was a sort of vision that he gave me, which, well he captivated me of course.

I went back and gave my notice. I was an Almoner at Portsmouth Chest Clinic and came back in June to take the job of being – I think I was called fairly early on ‘the Warden’ – at Le Court.

I thought to myself, are you going to do this job because you are falling in love with the Group Captain, or do you want to do a job? I was quite convinced by my own self that this was god given. But you see he was so charismatic (if that is the right word for him) that he made these things possible, he put them in your way, and he provided the job so to speak.

He was a lovely person. I had enormous affection for him, as we all did. He inspired. And everybody else followed, and worked hard, and the residents put up with the initial hardships and things like that because he inspired us all to do this.

Find out more about Frances’s memories of Le Court.

He was a lovely person. I had enormous affection for him, as we all did. He inspired. And everybody else followed.